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The Right Assisted Living Facility for Mom

My mother is 88 and was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment 8 years ago. I have been caregiver for her for the past 7 years and when my father passed away 3 years ago, she moved to an assisted living facility. I still am with her 4-5 days a week.

In the last 2 years she has had 2 breaks – hip and leg and surgeries, rehab and had to move from her current facility. Last June, she moved to a wonderful SunRise memory unit about 45 minutes from my home. She has done very well since being there…she is more aware, alert, talkative…she is walking with a walker.

Now there is a new facility being built around the corner from my home. This place (Autumn Leaves) is completely devoted to memory care and within walking distance should I need to walk instead of drive.
The care level seems to be on par with SunRise and all that I have read about it or witnessed is positive. It would seem like a no brainer to move her closer so that I can be there for her more often
(I see her 4-5 days a week now) and quicker in case of emergencies.

My concern is that I have read in the past that change of this sort could have an effect on her and cause a setback. She has done so well in the last 8 months, I would not want to harm her. My feeling is that if I am there as much or more than I am now, helping her through the transition and if her own”things” are there, maybe the change in settings won’t make that big of a difference. Or would it be better for her to stay put where she is?

Thank you for taking the time to help me choose the right path for my mom.

Lyra Veal, Woodstock, GA

Hi Lyra,

The move to Autumn Leaves sounds like a good one to me.  The facility is devoted to memory care and you’ve read and witnessed only encouraging things. Given these factors, I think you can expect that your mom would do just as well there.  In my experience, the care (which boils down to the hiring standards, supervision and quality of the training) along with the consistency of what family can offer are what matter most.

One thing I would stress, however, is that the transition should be made as seamless as possible. I’m envisioning her having breakfast in one facility, going on an outing with you or someone else she loves and trusts and winding up in the new facility with her room already fixed up as close to the way it was at Sunrise as possible.  Anything you can do to make the new place look (and feel) like the old place, will only help.  I’d even go as far as to say that if her room gets morning light now, that you talk to the new facility to see if there are any rooms with morning light there. See if you can arrange the furniture in a similar way, ensure any pictures are arranged as they were, etc.

It’s hard for me to tell from your question how advanced your mom is, but I think there’s reason to hope that with what I’ve suggested, she may not know the difference between the two facilities. The kind of setbacks you’ve read about are a real concern, but much more of a risk when the setting or level of care is changing drastically.  That’s not the case here and you will be her constant.

I can’t close without saying that it seems to me that there’s another huge benefit to the new assisted living facility: it will leave you with a bit more time for you. My fervent hope is that you use it to do something kind for yourself given all you do for your mom.

All the best and please stay in touch.


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